artist: Nick Anderson (The Houston Chronicle); source: AmericanProgress.org
Memorial Day 2008: a statistical analysis
(from the Center for American Progress, 5.23.08)
- 23.8 million: Approximate number of living veterans in the United States.
- 1.1 million or 7 percent: Number and percent of female veterans.
- 37 million: Approximate number of dependents (spouses and dependent children) of living veterans and survivors of deceased veterans. This represents about 20 percent of the U.S. population.
- 1.64 million: Approximate number of U.S. troops who have been deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq since October 2001.
- 15: The current number of months for combat tours, extended from 12 by the Pentagon last year, with dwell time shortened to 12 months. While the Pentagon announced that Army tours would return to 12 months this fall, tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are still affected by this extension.
- 825,000: Number of disability claims processed by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2007.
- 223,564: Number of veterans from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan who filed disability claims as of September 2007.
- 1,500: Number of homeless Iraq and Afghanistan veterans already located by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- 194,000, or 1 in 4: Total number of homeless people who are estimated to be veterans.
- 13 percent: The increase in the Army's suicide rate since 2005. Suicides among active-duty soldiers in 2007 reached their highest level since the Army began keeping such records in 1980.
Bill O'Reilly claims there are no homeless veterans. Bush wants still more funding for his wars but argues against pay raises for military personnel, saying it is unnecessary? The White House issued a statement of opposition to the military pay raise portion of the new H.R. 5658 bill which claims the "overall military benefit package provides a good quality of life for servicemembers and their families."
Wow. This is the same military that cannot afford adequate protection for the troops? This is the same military that strongly advises its new dependents of enlisted personnel to sign up for welfare because the pay simply won't cover all their bills? This is the same military which provides insufficient tuition credits for its veterans? I guess a "good quality of life" is acceptable in the president's eyes. Sure, active duty soldiers can survive (that's code for: "scrape by") on a "good quality of life" just as easily as an injured veteran can survive with missing limbs or impaired mental faculties.
This is the reality of our country: where mediocrity suffices because excellence is just too much of a pain in the ass to be considered an attainable goal. Our elected officials sit in luxury's lap, cushioned by creature comforts, served by attentive staff who are paid to meet their every need - while their uniformed constituents endure all manner of hell in inhospitable conditions all around the globe. And somehow those elected officials sleep soundly each night, never plagued by guilt or nightmares over their callous disregard for the men and women whose sacrifices warrant nothing more than a "good quality of life" - somehow, they sleep. One can only wonder if said elected officials remove their rose-colored glasses before their heads hit their pillows.